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Damaged Minds

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Strakk tore his axe from the now-deceased Sand Fox and slung it over his shoulder. The canine creatures were small, but enough to keep him from starving for perhaps a day or so. Besides, a few more days were all he needed to find his true prey.

 

A small movement in the corner of his eye startled him. Instinctively, he darted behind a nearby chunk of metal and peered out from behind it. A Vorox crept into view, its gaze darting back and forth. It could smell him, and he knew it.

 

The Vorox began to inspect the corpse of the Sand Fox, poking it with its spear cautiously. Silently, Strakk cursed himself for leaving behind his only food. Now he was going to fight for it.

 

Leaping out from behind the metal and drawing his axe in one smooth motion, he let out a ferocious battle cry in an attempt to frighten the beast. Apparently, it only served to anger it; in retaliation, the Vorox let out a blood-curdling shriek of its own and charged forward.

 

The opponents collided, but the Vorox’s strength was overpowering, and Strakk couldn’t prevent himself from falling back onto the ground, pinned down by the unprecedented weight of the beast.

 

Not ready to give up, he bent his legs and pushed up, propelling the Vorox off of him. While it reeled from his defence, he snatched up his axe and raised it to make to the finishing blow-

 

“Don’t.”

 

What felt like a pair of protosteel bonds had gripped his wrists, preventing him from completing his strike. This was hardly what startled Strakk as he recognised the voice: “Malum?”

 

“Yes,” came his gruff response. “Now drop the axe before I crush your wrists.”

 

After a moment of hesitation, Strakk decided it was best not to resist against the warrior who had once almost killed him, especially in this energy-deprived state. Malum took it from his grasp and cast it on the ground.

 

The former fire tribe Glatorian made a foreign sound, prompting the Vorox to pin Strakk’s arms to his sides. “You’ve been hunting me,” Malum said, standing over the axe as though it were a fallen soldier. “I don’t know why and I don’t care.

 

“Because what you must understand is that you can never find me. I can only find you. And now that I have…” Malum raised his boulder of a foot and stomped on the axe blade, shattering it like glass. “You’re going to regret coming for me.”

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Gali Nuva looked over at Tahu with concern for what seemed the fiftieth time in the past hour. The two had been roaming the wild hills and terrain of the planet in search of a location for New Atero, but Tahu seemed to be marvelling more at himself and his newfound power than anything. Every time Gali had spared a glance, he had been eyeing his gleaming golden armour and testing out small fractions of his powers.

 

This time, it seemed, he had caught her looking. “Something troubling you, sister?”

 

At first, she contemplated telling him of her fears, but she knew how irrational he could become when offended. And besides, it wasn’t as if he was wrong to be impressed with his new abilities. Perhaps if given some time, he would return to normal.

 

“Nothing, brother. Just checking you’re-“

 

Gali froze as a flash of red in the trees behind Tahu sparked a sudden sense of déjà vu.

 

“What is it?” Asked the Toa of fire, scanning the trees for danger.

 

“I thought I saw… No, it’s impossible.”

 

“What did you see?” Tahu asked, his voice growing fiery.

 

Both Toa snapped into battle positions as a tree exploded into flames, sending a squadron of birds fleeing for their lives. Gali immediately doused the flames with a flash of torrential rain, transforming the fire into steam and fog, clouding the trees. Without their vision, the being would be forced to leave its cover.

 

Sure enough, a red-armoured leg stepped out from the mist. Then another, then a body, then finally the whole creature was within sight-

 

“Tahnok!” Tahu exclaimed. “But how?!”

 

Gali frowned. Sometimes it paid to be right. “I don’t know, but apparently it seems to think it’s still on Mata-Nui.”

 

“Time to put a stop to this.” Raising a hand, Tahu willed a small cyclone to appear around the Bohrok, sending it spinning into the air.

 

Gali, summoning her Pakari, caught the machine creature in mid-air and slammed it to the ground, cracking open its head plate. She was shocked to find that there was no Krana hidden within.

 

The Toa exchanged uncomfortable glances. Without a prime directive given by the Bahrag Queens, Bohrok without Krana would simply obey any task given to them. This meant that someone must have ordered it to cause destruction.

 

“And that’s looking past the question of what a Bohrok is doing on Spherus Magna.” Pointed out Gali. When Tahu did not reply, she looked to see he appeared deep in thought. “Everything alright?”

 

“Look how damaged it is.” He replied without looking up. The Tahnok was indeed battle scarred, with intense scorch marks, melted areas and chunks torn straight out, exposing the mechanical workings within.

 

“It looks as though it’s been thrown through a furnace.” Gali observed.

 

“Exactly. I think that may be a clue as to how it got here.”

 

“What do you mean?”

Finally, he met her gaze. “We should keep going. The Tahnok isn’t going anywhere, and we can come back for it if we need to. Our main priority is still finding a home for our people.”

 

Gali nodded, and with one final disturbed glance at the fallen Bohrok, the two set off again. Behind them, the Tahnok’s sapphire eye flickered.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Stronius looked out over the lake with both satisfaction and bitterness. On the one hand, the planet had been restored to life and water was now in abundance. On the other hand, the Skrall had been battered into submission, their empire now reduced to scattered groups throughout the wilderness.

 

The last three days had been spent camping beside this lake, awaiting word from their scouts of any other Skrall in the surrounding area. Not a single one of the scouts had returned as of yet, and Stronius suspected it would be a while before any sign of them would show.

 

As if in response to his thoughts, Legato, his second in command, appeared at his side. “Stronius, sir.”

 

“Speak.”

 

“Two of the scouts, sir. They’ve found something.”

 

“Show me.”

 

Legato led Stronius to a tent on the edge of the camp, outside of which two more Skrall stood guard. Already he had an idea as to what they had found.

 

Inside, the two Skrall scouts stood over a heavily damaged mechanical form. “Another one.” Stronius said, looking down at the creature in disgust.

 

“This one had already been disabled, sir.” One of the scouts informed him. “Someone else had apparently found it a short distance from the crash site and fought it off, without realising its significance.”

 

Stronius nodded. “Then whoever found it isn’t a Skrall, or they would have recognised the similarities between this and the Baterra.”

 

“It’s odd, sir,” said Legato, examining the exposed inner workings of the creature.

 

“What’s ‘odd’?” Stronius asked irritably.

 

“That they’re so similar. The Baterra were already there when we found them, but these… These things are falling from the sky.”

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Strakk spat out a mouthful of dirt as he pried himself from the floor of Malum’s cave. All around him, Vorox stared, gripping their primitive spears and grinding their razor sharp teeth. He could see it in their eyes that they desperately wanted to rip him apart, an invader in their land, but Malum had them under control, somehow.

 

“I have something to show you, Strakk.” Malum taunted, grabbing him by the back of the neck. He struggled in vain as the stronger Glatorian dragged him across the cave to another chamber, which was left dark and unlit.

 

Malum released him, and a huge stone slab moved into place to block the chamber entrance. Left in pitch darkness, Strakk stared into the shadows, and a pair of glowing ruby red eyes stared back. 

 

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Edited by Alex Turner

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